Friday, April 5, 2013

Ciao Bella Coffee Bar

           Ciao Bella Cafe (Ciao Bella on Twitter) opened about a month ago and it feels like Pillars Social Cafe version 2.0, which is not a bad thing. Liquor license has been applied for, natural cane sodas still on tap. The menu is american food with an Italian flair and includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. Since the patio is on private property alcohol can be served there. Instead of Intelligensia coffee it is Metropolis. The interior has been tweaked so as to maximize seating and increase space.

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Last edited 4/5/13 2:30 pm

            The cardboard light covers, reclaimed wood, and most other interior details has been kept the same. Some of the half walls were removed and the wall in back now serves as a warm accent to the fireplace. It is still about community, awareness, respect, environment. Ciao Bella is located at the northwest corner of Pratt and Sheridan in Rogers Park, Illinois.  ( Ciao Bella reviews onYelp) 

          Reading the reviews on Yelp it is apparent that people are confused about cafe and restaurant seating there and whether you order from your table or from the counter. In a case like Selmarie in Lincoln Square it is fairly obvious that the cafe is in the front and restaurant is in the back. Something should be done to clear up the confusion. What further confuses the issue is the two entrances. They should probably scrap the counter on the Sheridan side and just keep the cafe going on the Pratt side. The glare from the sun can be significant at times, easily remedied with window shades.


            This writer agrees that the place echoes quite a bit on the Sheridan side. A reviewer on Yelp explains that now one can order at the counter or someone wait on you. Jay A. on Yelp gives them one star  with a long description of the lack of service. That is what is good about Yelp, its feedback. One restaurant in San Diego decided to put their horrible Yelp reviews on a radio in their bathroom. That would be a great idea for any restaurant. It is such a nice space it would be strange for a restaurant to not thrive there. Some people have their mind made up but this writer will keep an eye on this place to see how things unfold. Way too early to form any permanent opinions.


jayanson said...

Hi this is Jay A. (Yelp review) my review wasn't so much of a rant rather stating the obvious lack of good customer service and I feel that the restaurant/coffee house has an identity crisis. I'v been a Chef and consultant for awhile so I feel my review has a little credibility.
The space in itself is nice and has good traffic but knowing how to begin getting that traffic in your restaurant is something most restauranteurs seem to forget.
I suggest they try again before they lose their shirts.

Philip McGregor Rogers said...

Thanks Jay A.

I agree about the identity crisis, which could be resolved by making it more clear which side is which more clearly ala Selmarie in Lincoln Square.

Do you guys know of a better example of a well run coffee house slash restaurant?

John Versical said...

It's a real shame these guys hastily opened without a trained staff or full concept. I had a feeling the quick turnaround might bring that problem, but I was hopeful. I just don't understand how a restaurant can open without a website and online menu available in this day and age. And to have sub-par service is completely unacceptable whether it is your first day or your 1000th day in business. Human nature: A negative review will resonate louder and clearer than 10 good reviews.

jayanson said...

The closet one I can think of is the Growling Rabbit, BUT it is far from being what it can be or should be. Like most restaurants/coffe houses it's identity. The Growling Rabbit has a nice aesthetic and it makes sense for our neighborhood. The menu however looks like a full service fair, what coffee house has dinner? They don't or shouldn't. Restaurants who have owners with little to no experience run into a lot of issue that since they lack the experience they often do not realize them. When you point these things out whether as a consultant or customer they are offended.
If you want to serve good coffee be a barista and server so you understand that aspect of your business, most restauranteurs feel if they make a decent muffin of cookie or a nice pot of coffee that all their friends and family tell them you should open your own place it's usually a mistake. It's also very insulting for those who work in the industry as GM's or Chef's. Thinking that YOU can do what they do successfully is offensive. It takes dedication, commitment and years of experience to understand how to run a restaurant but more importantly is WHY you want to.